Censorship In Journalism

Sofia Casanova - aspiring human rights reporter
“It would be hard to avoid censorship in places where what I am reporting on will reflect badly on the government”Sofia Casanova

Journalism comes in many forms but has the same aim: to bring attention to the stories and issues in society. Censorship impacts on storytelling. I talked to four aspiring journalists about how their chosen field could be impacted by this suppression of information.

“People should be able to say what they feel…”

Riley Jones wants to pursue comedic journalism to approach current issues in a witty manner for a unique impact. “It’s a more engaging method of journalism,” he says. “By tackling the issue absurdly, they can make people rethink the issue.” Jones realises that comedy can often be censored and says, “people should be able to say what they feel, even if it is offensive or not funny.” A quote from Voltaire resonates with him and is a staple for his dream in comedic journalism, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it.”

“Censorship creates a massive struggle when trying to educate…”

“I never hear about it in the media,” Brianna Gibbs says about human trafficking. She wants to be a human rights writer to expose issues that are often overlooked in the media. “Censorship creates a massive struggle when trying to educate people on quite horrific human right issues,” she says. Gibbs understands that the restriction of information hinders the opportunity to make a change in society and that human rights defenders often become targets because of the issues they raise but she thinks it’s important to inform the world of “the worst human rights violations that are never heard of”.

“Governments will want it told in a way to fit their agenda…”

Bethany Ross dreams to become a war correspondent in the Middle East. She’s aware how censorship in this field can lead to “provoking propaganda, amateur reporting, and inaccurate information”. It impacts on the news the public receives as governments will want it told in a way to fit their agenda, but this can also be applied to news corporations. “Considering the majority of our media is owned by 5 people… it’s hard to avoid bias”. She points out freelance journalist and Al-Jazeera producer, Rosie Garthwaite whose stories in war-torn countries didn’t always make the front page because “we don’t necessarily want the truth, we want entertainment and that in itself is censoring and restricting true war correspondents”. This drives Ross to defy restrictions to get the truth out there.

“We skim over stories of violated human rights…”

Prospective human rights reporter, Sofia Casanova, notes that a countries’ policy may include censorship if what is reported reflects badly on their government such as “child brides and marital rape, which may not be covered in that country’s legislation”. This censorship doesn’t allow the matter to make a constant impact on an international audience to make change. “I know that we skim over stories of violated human rights,” she says, “whilst we may have a moment of horror, we eventually forget the story because we don’t care”.

Essentially, censorship has a domino effect. If the issue is stopped from being shared, the world doesn’t know about it. There will be no outcry. No call for change. In turn, the victims remain in their oppressive and undeserving state. Whether satirical, human rights advocation or on the ground journalism, they all have an important role in storytelling and any restraint in doing so hinders the ability to do so accurately.

– Tracy Bustamante


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